Becoming a best friend and protector to your new bundle of joy is an exciting role that many canines are proud to take on. On the other hand, some dogs aren't into the whole baby thing at first, and others just aren't really sure how to respond to the little tyke.
Help your pup and your family ease into the process of getting to know each other with some pre-baby preparation.
Establishing New Boundaries
Before your newborn comes home, your dog needs time to adjust to the new environment. While you may not have taken notice or been bothered by it before, you're not going to want your pup following you into every room of the house when rocking or feeding.
Create off-limits spaces by using simple commands like "kennel up," "out," or "go lay down." Once the requirement of the command has been met, reward your dog with a treat or affection. By offering a positive result for good behavior, your pup will understand that this isn't a punishment. You're just establishing a new routine.
The time for introductions and family inclusion will come, but the last thing you want is to be carrying your newborn across a room…only to trip and fall over a curious canine.
Helpful Trick: Buy a babydoll from your local dollar store. If possible, pick one that cries or makes noise and carry it around the home the way you would your newborn and use it as practice.
Setting the Mood
If possible, have a friend, family member, or pet sitter take your dog for a brisk run or walk to wear off excess energy. During this time, bring your newborn inside and allow other children in the home to express their excitement. Once everyone has calmed down a bit, have another adult help with initiating the first greeting between your pup and the new little person in their life.
Leash your dog as a precaution; it’s not necessary to pull or restrain. They're going to be curious...
"This baby smells so different, so good! It’s so tiny! Can I lick it? Can we play together?"
Allow your dog to sniff the baby's feet and tell them what your baby's name is. Doing so will help them recognize that the newborn is a who, not an it. As long as they're calmly following "sit" and "gentle" commands, your pet should be given permission to observe, sniff, and listen to the soft cooing of their two-legged sibling.
You know your dog best, if they growl, become tense, or appear to behave in a way that you recognize as aggression, stop the session immediately. Take a break, and revisit.
Work As A Team
Once you feel that your newborn has reached a stage where they can safely go for stroller rides, bring your pup with! Walking together is by far one of the most primal ways for owners to bond with canines. Use this opportunity to help them get used to the presence of the baby and create the natural union of bringing them into The Pack!